When approaching risk assessments at your place of work, you might be wondering “are there actually benefits to formal risk assessments?”. In fact, there are many benefits to using formal risk assessments! For example, staff safety and wellbeing, improved efficiency, and legal peace of mind, just to name a few.
Humans have been doing risk assessments since the dawn of time – risk assessment is essentially built into human nature. From before the time our ancestors learned to walk upright in the Savannah, their brain was already attuned to working out what could hurt or kill them and how to avoid that fate…
…So, in theory, people should take to filling risk assessment forms like ducks to water.
But why isn’t this the case? Well, one of the other evolutionary priorities of the brain is to preserve energy and constant risk evaluation is exhausting.
So, by design, people tend to relegate decision making on frequently encountered threats to their subconscious. This can lead to people often operating on some form of autopilot. That’s why even the most experienced people can fall victim to completely avoidable accidents and injuries.
This raises questions around how we engage with our surroundings and assess risks in a way that isn’t exhausting and reduces the likelihood of operating on autopilot. One way to achieve this is by actively completing a formal process of risk identification. By participating in this process, we can be prompted to focus on safety and challenged to mitigate the risks which can serve to disengage our natural autopilot.
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